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Young Entrepreneur Alumnus Takes Action Abroad

GNABryan Cruz ’07 is putting his business savvy to the test. After the young alumnus graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in May 2007, he started a nonprofit that provides nutrition support to children in developing nations.

“My decision to major in business was made from the dream of being a wealthy and influential business owner,” explained Cruz. “But my dream began to shift through powerful experiences with community service activities at LMU.”

While he was an undergraduate, Cruz helped establish Underwings, a nonprofit, student-run organization that provides tutoring and mentoring services to underprivileged children in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles. Cruz learned that even as student he could make a difference.

“The world’s problems are being identified on a daily basis, but people choose to ignore them or think they cannot do anything about them. I learned that you can get positive results just by taking whatever action you can,” he said.

As he continued his junior and senior years, Cruz explored ways to combine his passion for business with his desire to continue helping underserved communities. At the time, hunger and undernourishment in children became a major concern for him. He began dedicating many of his entrepreneur class projects to the issue and came up with the concept for Global Nutrition Alliance (GNA), and a new dream was formed.

“As an entrepreneur, I was not interested in learning just to pass a final, I wanted to learn in order to apply what I learned,” said Cruz.

As president of GNA, Cruz creates partnerships to end hunger in different parts of the world. He focuses on providing holistic nutrition programs that are tailored to the specific needs of communities.

According to Cruz, many organizations that are working to end hunger lack in the nutrition aspect of their mission. “Impoverished countries are being fed the table scraps of the more developed nations,” he said. “Plans with nutrition inadequacies will never provide the complete nourishment needed to sustain good health, and that is what GNA is addressing.”

By this coming fall, GNA will have delivered 65,000 hot meals to a school and orphanage in the Dominican Republic. Through collaborations and donations, Cruz is working on his next partnership with a similar institution in Haiti. He plans to provide regular meal shipments and holistic nutrition plans to a new community partner every year.

“LMU taught me to incorporate my spirituality into all aspects of my life and to take action and really live out my beliefs. …By forming GNA, I get to live out this ideal. I can do something that challenges me while at the same time giving me a strong sense of purpose in my life,” Cruz said.

Photo: Pictured in center, Cruz delivers goods to the Dominican Republic.